Let his heart be changed from man' s, and let a beast' s heart be given unto him - Here the same thing occurs in a more marked form, showing that some man was represented by the vision, and indicating some change which was fitted to attract the deepest attention - as if the person referred to should cease to be a man, and become a beast. The word heart here seems to refer to nature - "let his nature or propensity cease to be that of a man, and become like that of a beast; let him cease to act as a man, and act as the beasts do - evincing as little mind, and living in the same manner."
And let seven times pass over him - In this condition, or until he is restored. It is not indeed said that he would be restored, but this is implied
(a) in the very expression "until seven times shall pass over him," as if he would then be restored in some way, or as if this condition would then terminate; and
(b) in the statement that "the stump of the roots "would be left in the earth as if it might still germinate again.
Everything, however, in the dream was fitted to produce perplexity as to what it could mean. The word rendered "times" ( ‛ı̂ddânı̂yn - singular, ‛iddân ) is an important word in the interpretation of Daniel. It is of the same class of words as the Hebrew yâ‛ad - to point out, to appoint, to fix; and would refer properly to time considered as "appointed" or "designated;" then it may mean any stated or designated period, as a year. The idea is that of time considered as designated or fixed by periods, and the word may refer to any such period, however long or short - a day, a month, a year, or any other measure of duration. What measurement or portion is intended in any particular case must be determined from the connection in which the word is found. The word used here does not occur in the Hebrew scripture, and is found only in the book of Daniel, where it is uniformly rendered "time" and "times."
It is found only in the following places: Daniel 2:8, "that ye would gain the time;" Daniel 2:9, "till the time be changed;" Daniel 2:21, "and he changeth the times;" Daniel 3:5, Daniel 3:15, "at what time ye shall hear;" Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:23, "and let seven times pass over him," Daniel 4:25, Daniel 4:32, "seven times shall pass over him;" Daniel 7:12, "for a season and time;" Daniel 7:25, "until a time and times and the dividing of time." In the place before us, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned, it might mean a day, a week, a month, or a year. The more common interpretation is what supposes that it was a year, and this will agree better with all the circumstances of the case than any other period. The Greek of Theodotion here is: ̀ ̔̀ ̀ ̀́ ̓ ̓ ̓́ kai hepta kairoi allagēsontai ep' auton - "And seven times shall change upon him;" that is, until seven seasons revolve over him.
The most natural construction of this Greek phrase would be to refer it to years. The Latin Vulgate interprets it in a similar way - et septem tempora mutentur super eum - "And let seven times be changed" or revolve "over him." In the Codex Chisianus it is: ̀ ̓̀ ̓́ ͂ ̀ ̓͂ kai hepta etē boskēthē sun autois - "and let him feed with them seven years." Luther renders it "times." Josephus understands by it "seven years." - "Ant." b. x. ch. 10: Section 6. While the Chaldee word is indeterminate in respect to the length of time, the most natural and obvious construction here and elsewhere, in the use of the word, is to refer it to years. Days or weeks would be obviously too short, and though in this place the word "months" would perhaps embrace all that would be necessary, yet in the other places where the word occurs in Daniel it undoubtedly refers to years, and there is, therefore, a propriety in understanding it in the same manner here.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Daniel 4:16:
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